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University of Colorado Boulder Hiking Club collection

Identifier: COU:2853

Scope and Contents

The Hiking Club Collection contains: club minutes, hike schedule, alumni postcards, correspondence, club constitutions, first aid guides, scrapbooks and member lists.


  • Creation: 1919 - 1983

Biographical / Historical

The University of Colorado at Boulder Hiking Club holds the title of being the university’s oldest student organization. Established on April 1, 1919, it began as a way to encourage interest in all outdoor activities, and to take advantage of the mountainous region of the school and state. It began with 35 charter members, who began official club business by first electing officers, then taking a hike up Flagstaff Mountain. In the early days of the organization, potential members were required to attend two small hikes called ‘fries’, as well as one long hike before they were eligible for pledging, after which the members would vote them in. In between pledging and initiation, pledges were then required to go on half of all the scheduled hikes. A week before initiation, the potential member was then taken on a short “Pledge Hike”, which included a formal, candle-lit initiation ceremony followed by a feast presided over by a Toastmaster and Presenter of Awards.

After they were initiated, Hiking Club members were able to use the clubroom, once a popular place among members and their friends to spend time together. It was said to be “lined with rough logs” and included a radio-phonograph, all watched over by the head of a large elk mounted on the wall. Other notable events in the club’s early history included the “Vice-Versa Hike”, where the women of the club got a chance to do all the planning, buying, leading and packing. The “Bee-Line Hike” was organized by the club president. This hike earned its name because of the way it was carried out; members had to go in a straight line, over any hill or geological obstacle on the way to the destination. The annual “Mystery Hike” was another responsibility of the president. Everything from the location to the destination was kept secret by the president, with the other members blindly going along. The last hike of the year was called the “Senior Fry”, to send off the graduating seniors. In addition to these themed hikes, they also went on bike rides, had snowshoe/ski trips, visited hot springs, and enjoyed spring break trips.

Hiking Club alumni kept contact with one another after college, and it was at one point described as the “the most successful marriage bureau on campus”. Old alumni would frequently send postcards to the club from hikes they went on after graduating. Recently, the Hiking Club has made efforts to connect the more recent alumni with this long-standing alumni association, and have organized a contact list.

The Hiking club still holds to the same values and goals as it did in 1919; the main deviation arose with the improvement in transportation over time; Hiking Club members are now able to extend their travel territory further into Colorado and the Unites States, including spring break trips to Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming. New members are required to fill out a release of liability on the occasion of injury or death. The organization is open to all students, faculty and community members, regardless of their hiking experience. Current trips include activities like stargazing, day trips to the mountains, potlucks, camping, ski/snowboarding and visiting National Parks.


2.5 linear feet (7 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Hiking Club at the University of Colorado at Boulder has a long history as the school’s oldest student organization. Since its inception, it has provided a variety of outdoor activities for CU students and faculty, as well as the Boulder community. With a large alumni association the Hiking Club has established a far reaching network, spanning over generations of former members.

Processed by Jennifer Sanchez, 2022
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States